I suck at goodbyes. I'm great at cheerful "see ya later"s, or even the occasional "catch ya on da flip". Goodbye – when I know it's forever – I just can't do.
I'm a pathetic sap. I'm not even 5 sentences into this damned blog and my eyes are tearing up already.
The decision has been made to stop my friend Jason Bradley's life support and let him pass on. Every test has shown that he has no higher brain function left – just heartbeat and breathing. Our Jason is gone.
I went to the hospital last night to say goodbye. I'm still fighting this damnable cold, so I coated my hands in germicide and put on the paper mask. Just as well. I didn't want anyone to see the look on my face. A couple of his good friends from Florida were there keeping vigil. I still have this glimmer of hope. Miracles do happen. I said something akin to, "I'm not giving up on you, but if you decide this is goodbye, so be it."
The mask didn't cover my eyes, though. It was soaked by the time I left.
After heading home, watching a movie with my kids and getting them to bed, I went in the backyard and Sonya and I started a fire in the fire bowl. I spent the better part of the next 4 hours there sharing a last beer with my friend, pouring a small amount into the fire between sips.
I had been trying to remember exactly when Jason and I had first met, assuming it was something involving my sister and Dondero's choir. Sonya reminded me last night that I had met him a year prior, during the highlight of my high school career, the Spring musical, The Music Man.
I was playing the lead, Harold Hill. The director had recruited several 7th and 8th graders to play the part of the boy's band. They would come in from time to time for run-throughs and some rehearsals. For the big finale, all of the kids needed instruments. Having met and talked with Jason a bit, I saw a lot of myself in him. He was a chubby extrovert with a chipper persona and goofy sense of humor. We just clicked, so I chose to sort of take him under my wing. I lent him my personal trombone for the final scene and made a big point of letting him know that he was the only one I trusted with it.
I don't know how I could have forgotten that, but somehow, it makes this loss all the harder for me. Jason was with me for one of my biggest triumphs at that point in my life, and helped make it that way by making me feel important and looked up to. That was Jay: always lifting people up, even when he's not really trying to. It was reflexive for him to make people smile.
Sonya and I talked about him for a while, remembering how he would light up a room. He wouldn't make a big entrance or draw attention to himself. You'd be at a party, surveying the scene, and notice him in a corner talking with some folks and smiling that shit-eatin' grin he'd usually have on his face. Suddenly you think, "Yea, NOW it's a party," and go join in the fun.
Talked with my good friend and designated "inner child" Paulie B. last night after he got home from hanging with some of Jason's family. He helped me put some things in perspective. An interesting switch, as lately that seems to have been my role for him. He and Sonya have been a rock for me through this. They may not know it, since I play my stronger emotions pretty close to the vest, but they've been keeping me pretty grounded.
This is hitting me on a lot of levels. Not just losing Jason, but contemplating the bigger issues of mortality, God, and eternity as well. I haven't been questioning my faith, exactly, but it's helped me to put it into better, more focused perspective.
In closing, there's a song that has been creeping into my head a lot lately. It's from The Muppets Take Manhattan and was used at Jim Henson's funeral. It pretty much sums everything up: sorrow, grief, and hope. Have tissues at the ready.
Saying goodbye, going away
Seems like goodbye's such a hard thing to say
Touching a hand, wondering why
It's time for saying goodbye
Saying goodbye, why is it sad?
Makes us remember the good times we've had
Much more to say, foolish to try
It's time for saying goodbye
Dont want to leave, but we both know
Sometimes it's better to go
Somehow I know we'll meet again
Not sure quite where, and I dont know just when
You're in my heart, so until then
Wanna smile, wanna cry
La la la la la la la laIt's time for saying goodbye...
Add to My Profile | More VideosGoodbye, Jason. Time to get this show on the road.